INDIANAPOLIS – Winners of six of their last seven games, the Bengals seem primed to capture the AFC North for the first time since 2009.
It remains to be seen whether or not Marvin Lewis can get past his 0-4 record in the playoffs but for now it’s about trying to secure at least one home playoff game come January.
While the Bengals offense has been up-and-down in 2013, the defense led by coordinator Mike Zimmer is still among the league’s best.
Even without All-Pro defensive tackle Geno Atkins, the Bengals are in the top in both rush defense and pass defense heading into Week 14.
Cincinnati has 36 sacks on the season and has one of the best secondaries in the NFL.
The Bengals pass defense allows just 5.5 yards per pass play and the defense as a whole is allowing 18 points per game, which ranks fifth fewest in the NFL.
Offensively, A.J. Green has firmly established himself as one of the game’s best receivers. Green has 72 catches for 1,103 yards and seven touchdowns on the year.
Out of the backfield, rookie running back Giovani Bernard has rushed for 521 yards and accounted for 354 receiving yards in 2013.
The offense has sputtered at times with 24 takeaways which is the second most for any AFC team currently in the playoff picture.
Andy Dalton has thrown 16 interceptions in 2013 but the offense is third in the NFL in scoring touchdowns on 64.5 percent of red zone drives.
Cincinnati does rank sixth in the NFL in keeping Dalton upright.
This weekend’s matchup will have significant meaning on the difference between seeding for the Colts (8-4) and Bengals (8-4).
Both teams have at least a two-game lead in their respective divisions.
2013 Record: 8-4, First in the AFC North.
Head Coach: Marvin Lewis, 11th season as Bengals head coach (87-84-1 in the regular season and 0-4 in the playoffs).
2013 NFL Rankings: Offense – Overall, 12th (363.7); Rushing, 18th (112.6); Passing, 11th (251.1) Defense – Overall, 6th (314.8); Rushing, 8th (101.1); Passing, 8th (213.8).
2013 Leading Passer: Andy Dalton (266-of-433 comp., 3,144 yards, 61.4 pct., 22 TDs, 16 INTs).
2013 Leading Rusher: BenJarvus Green-Ellis (176 carries, 614 yards, 4 TDs).
2013 Leading Receiver: A.J. Green (72 receptions, 1,103 yards, 7 TDs).
2013 Leading Sacker: Carlos Dunlap (7.0).
2013 Turnover Breakdown: Minus 1 (16th in the NFL).
2013 NFL Draft Results: With three picks in the two rounds of April’s draft, the Bengals definitely turned some heads with their picks. Cincinnati chose Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert in the first round to give Andy Dalton another weapon in the passing game. In the second round, the Bengals selected North Carolina running back Giovani Bernard who has impacted the game via the rush and on third-down. Later in the second round, the Bengals picked 6’8” Estonian defensive end Margus Hunt out of SMU.
2012 Review: The Bengals were 3-5 at the midway point of the regular season after a four-game losing streak. Cincinnati though got back into the AFC Playoffs by winning seven of their last eight games with the only loss coming by one point. However, the strong end to the regular season would not translate to the playoffs as the Bengals lost to the Houston Texans for the second straight season in the Wild Card round.
Last time in Playoffs: 2012 season. Lost to the Houston Texans, 19-13, in the Wild Card Round of the Playoffs.
Last time in Super Bowl: 1988 season. Lost to the San Francisco 49ers, 20-16, in Super Bowl XXIII.
Super Bowl Championships: None.
2013 Pro Bowl Selections: DT-Geno Atkins, WR-A.J. Green, TE-Jermaine Gresham and OT-Andrew Whitworth.